First published in NOON 2014. Copyright 2014 by Tetman Callis.

            The president and his secretary for war came last night to a party at my house.  Not for the first time.  I don’t send out invites.  These two, they just show up.  Word gets around.

            “Your barbecue,” the president said.  “Your cocktails.  The bonfire in the back yard.  My friend, word gets around.”  He had a charming smile.  Voice smooth as a loving grandmother’s.  He orders airstrikes in that voice—imagine that!

            His secretary for war was a sourpuss.

            “I’ll say ‘word gets around,’” he said.  “We can see that goddamn bonfire on our satellites.  Don’t even need a goddamn drone to home in on that one.”

            The president and his secretary for war and I sat in white plastic lawn chairs some distance from the bonfire.  The president licked barbecue from his fingers.

            “C’était délicieux!” he said.

            “I don’t mind keeping myself in the dark,” he said.  He smiled one of his you’ll-vote-for-me smiles.  “People see me, they start asking for my autograph.  Next thing you know, they’re slipping executive pardons and budget riders in front of me, hoping I won’t notice.”

            His secretary for war seemed about to say something.  He was on his third Piña Colada and hadn’t eaten a bite from the plate of barbecue the president had given him.

            “You’re going to make yourself sick,” the president said.

            “Goddamn parties,” his secretary for war said.  “Goddamn sitting around in the dark.”

            The bonfire died down.  The president sipped his Manhattan.  “You make a fine Manhattan, my friend,” he said. 

            His secretary for war polished off a large bowl of vanilla ice cream and stared across the dark back yard toward the street.  “The goddamn limo is here,” he said.  “It’s time to go.”

            “Oh, so soon?” the president said.  He sounded genuinely sorry.

            “E-boss Thraxton Duster Jay are water windmills upriver dancing jigs,” his secretary for war said.

            “Indeed,” the president said, and he sighed.  “My friend, it has been wonderful, as always, to be with you here tonight.  Until next time, then,” he tossed me a casual salute and pirouetted to his waiting limousine.

            “Goddamn fancy dancer,” his secretary for war said.  He spoke into his shirt.  “Goddamn lucky Adam’s apple penny mimeograph abrumpo.”